Acoustic, or Love Without Accompaniment

~ Backup fic for the Giles/Oz ficathon on year_of_oz. Written for niuserre.

Oz woke up, opening his eyes to realise it was still very late -- or possibly very early -- and Giles wasn't in bed. The sound of a guitar told him what had woken him, and where Giles was. He stayed where he was, listening, to find out whether or not he should go down.

There were a lot of nights when Giles couldn't sleep. When he was angry or still wound up from the night's patrols, he'd play rock music. When he'd been drinking, he'd play old school punk and his accent would flatten out to something Oz never heard from him otherwise.

Once in awhile he'd play love songs and that would be Oz' cue to go downstairs and get seduced, or throw his shorts over the railing to let his lover know he should come back to bed. He didn't just do that one at night, of course. Sometimes Giles would even hum a song when they were driving home, and Oz would have to race him to get indoors before the clothes started coming off.

But tonight Giles was playing something softly, something vaguely classical. Oz rolled over and found Giles' pillow, and held it closely, and wished it was Giles he was holding.

The soft chords drifted, as though Giles wasn't paying close attention and some of the chords were played late. The tempo wavered between slow and infinitely slow, and Oz could close his eyes and picture Giles, sitting with his guitar. His gaze would be nowhere, focused neither on the room around him nor on something more distant, in his mind. Giles' hands would move as though he were falling asleep; still sure, without fumbling, but moving as though his hands were weighed down.

Sometimes, when Giles played rock, or punk, Oz would go down and get his own guitar and they'd play together until morning. When it was
love songs, Oz wouldn't even bother, despite knowing the chords as well as he knew any other song. If he even tried, he'd get a glimpse of
Giles and the look in his lover's eyes would make his cock stand straight up.

But this... He'd never learned how to reach Giles when he playing these songs. He'd asked, but never learned what his lover was wishing for, where he'd gone. Oz had never located the pattern for what triggered them, despite spending all his waking time watching Giles as closely as humanly possible.

All he knew was that tomorrow, any offers of affection would be gently rebuffed, then a few days later Giles would come to him, desperate for passion. Oz would make love to him for hours, letting him cry out in sex when he could not cry out for anything else.

Giles wouldn't say much -- but anymore, he rarely did. Oz remembered those first few weeks of school that year, when the new librarian had greeted the students with a wide smile and an adorable stammer. That man had vanished, killed off by the unrelenting vampire attacks.

Oz lay in bed and wondered if that man would ever be revived. Wondered if he could ever find the key to these nights, and learn some way to stave them off, or ease the pain he could feel in each note Giles played.

The song faded and Oz tensed, wondering if Giles would head upstairs now. But after a moment the music came again, a new song but the same style. Oz knew the words to this one, and he sat up in bed and leant against the wall, and sang along.

The lullaby was one his grandmother had sung to him when she'd lived with them years past. He could still hear her voice, gentle, wavering slightly, cracking with age on notes too low for her. But her face had been so full of love that Oz had gone to bed eagerly, knowing she would be there to sing him to sleep.

When the song ended, Oz heard Giles set down his guitar. He remained where he was in case Giles wanted to be alone, but a moment later he heard Giles' footfall on the steps. He watched as Giles came into view, and saw his lover's face streaked with tears.

Oz held out his hand, and Giles came forward, taking it and letting Oz pull him down onto the bed. He laid down, head in Oz' lap.

"I love you," Oz told him, running a hand through Giles' hair.

"Things should be different," Giles said, voice breaking.

"I know." Oz leaned down and kissed his temple. He had no idea how, or why. Giles had never explained his conviction that something had gone terribly wrong. But Oz didn't see any point arguing with him, so he'd taken to merely agreeing with him.

"I love you, too," Giles whispered, after a moment of silence.

"I know," Oz said, grinning. He saw a brief smile on Giles' face, and contented himself with that.

They sat there in silence, with Oz continuing to stroke Giles' hair. There might, indeed, be something terribly wrong with the world.

But this wasn't it.